On June 14, 2016, the Borough of Clementon (Camden County) agreed to pay a Pine Hill man $75,000 to settle his claim that he was kept in jail for three weeks for armed robbery when the robbery’s victim reportedly told police repeatedly that they arrested the wrong man.

In his lawsuit, Vaughn Molock said that after having been released from jail on an unrelated offense on June 22, 2011, Clementon Police Officer Joseph McDevit interviewed the victim of a armed robbery that occurred on the day of Molock’s release.  According to the lawsuit, McDevit, “without any support or factual basis, . . . claimed that the alleged victim had identified [Molock] as the perpetrator of an armed robbery.”   Molock said that he was arrested and spent three weeks in jail even though the “victim of the armed robbery repeatedly advised that [Molock] was not the person involved in the crime reported.”  Molock said that the armed robbery charge against him was dismissed.

The case is captioned Molock v. Borough of Clementon, et al, Federal Case No. 1:13-cv-03316 and Molock’s attorney was Paul R. Rizzo of Warren.  Case documents are on-line here.

None of lawsuit’s allegations have been proven or disproven in court.  Settlement agreements typically state that payment does not constitute an admission of wrongdoing by any of the defendants.  All that is known for sure is that Clementon or its insurer, for whatever reason, decided that it would rather pay Molock $75,000 than take the matter to trial. Perhaps the defendants’ decision was done to save further legal expense and the costs of trying what were in fact exaggerated or meritless claims. Or, perhaps the claims were true and the defendants wanted to avoid being embarrassed at trial. This is the problem when cases resolve before trial–it is impossible to know the truth of what really happened.

Chairman of the New Jersey Libertarian Party's Open Government Advocacy Project. Please send all comments to [email protected]